Fukushima court rules Tepco, govt liable over 2011 disaster

Fukushima court orders TEPCO, state to pay compensation

Fukushima court rules Tepco, govt liable over 2011 disaster - media

Among some 30 lawsuits filed nationwide by over 10,000 people, three rulings have been handed down so far and two of them - the latest ruling by the Fukushima court and one handed down by the Maebashi District Court in March - recognized that both the state and Tepco are liable for damages.

The ruling by the Fukushima District Court is the third against Tepco, following decisions by the Maebashi District Court in March and the Chiba District Court last month.

The court also upheld arguments by the plaintiffs that TEPCO ignored another chance to take safety measures when a government study group warned in 2008 of a major tsunami triggering a power outage at the plant.

The plaintiffs and their lawyers issued a statement saying the ruling "legally determined the negligence of both the government's nuclear policy and Tepco, which supported a "nuclear myth" that put a priority on economic interests rather than on safety".

The magnitude 9 quake and ensuing tsunami struck parts of the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the nuclear power plant.

The government and the utility have argued that a tsunami as high as what occurred could not have been anticipated and that the accident was unavoidable.

As John Matthews reports for NPR's Newscast unit from Tokyo, the court decided that "the government and the utility failed to act on a 2002 report that predicted a 20 percent chance of a major natural disaster triggering a tsunami in the following 30 years". "We will now regulate power stations properly by applying a new regulation standard, which was created based on the nuclear accident".

The court awarded the plaintiffs a total of close to 498 million yen and denied the request to force the company to lower the average radiation dosage.

TEPCO is still struggling with the plant's decommissioning, which is expected to take decades.

In his ruling, presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa ordered the government and TEPCO to pay ¥250 million each in damages to a total of some 2,900 of the plaintiffs.

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